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White County chasing down historic start to season

POSTED: September 18, 2013 10:34 p.m.

Through three games of the 2013 season, White County coach Bill Ballard doesn’t have much to be upset about.

The Warriors are 3-0, having outscored opponents 114-27 behind stingy defensive play and a run-first, run-often offense.

“I have felt like we’ve gotten off to a good start,” said Ballard, who recorded his 100th career win as a head coach in a season-opening, 35-14 win against Habersham Central. “We have good kids and they’re working hard. They had a good offseason.

“But we certainly have some really challenging games coming up, though. We don’t want to get too excited too fast.”

The impressive start could turn into a historic one for the Warriors, who this week have a chance to do something that no other team at White County has done since 1975: Begin a season 4-0.

“It is big to us because the history of the ball club, it hasn’t been done in a long time,” senior captain Dalton Whitfield said. “The pressure is on us to perform Friday night. We know we have to be on cue every snap and perform.”

White County knows to expect a battle when it takes the field Friday night. The Warriors (3-0, 1-0 Region 7-AAA) will host Blessed Trinity, which handed them two losses last season.

The Titans dealt the Warriors their first loss of the 2012 season, 21-19, preventing the program from starting 4-0 a year ago. Eight weeks later, Blessed Trinity ended White County’s season with a 35-14 victory in the opening round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

Whitfield said the playoff loss has been motivation for the Warriors throughout the summer.

“It has been a motivating factor, but we don’t put them above anybody else,” Whitfield said. “We treat them like they’re the next team.”

Much like last season, the Warriors are expecting a tough contest from the private school based in Roswell, and they know they’ll have to play a physical brand of football in order to win, Ballard said.

After losing in the second round of the state playoffs last season, Blessed Trinity is off to a 1-2 so far this season, but Ballard said there are still plenty of playmakers on the Titans’ roster.

“We have to play physical. Blessed Trinity is always physical, they’re very strong,” Ballard said.

“Coach (Tim) McFarlin always does a great job. He’s had great teams in the past at Roswell and now at Blessed Trinity. They always do a great job in the weight room and when they get off the bus, they look like a small college team.”

Luckily for the Warriors, they have a lot of playmakers, too.

Despite returning only one 2012 starter on the offensive line, Jacob Motes, and having to replace a two-year, all-region quarterback, Will Brock, the Warriors racked up yards at will through their first three games, averaging more than 400 yards per game.

Last week, the Warriors finished with a season-high 457 yards and seven touchdowns in a 48-13 rout of region foe Fannin County.

The Warriors have several playmakers in the backfield.

Junior A.J. Vandiver has excelled since taking over the quarterback duties this season. He finished with a team-high 124 yards on 10 carries in last week’s win, while Whitfield scored a team-best three touchdowns.

“I think A.J. has done a great job at quarterback, being able to distribute the ball,” Ballard said. “We run the triple-option and I feel like those guys are doing very well.

“We are a team offense; we don’t really know who is going to carry the ball. A lot of it depends on the defense and what they’re giving us.”

The backfield also includes the likes of Shawn Greer (63 yards last week), Will Flowers, Maurice Sutton, Sam Turner and Coley Loudermilk, all of whom have rushing touchdowns this season.

“Coach Ballard puts us in there and moves us around,” Whitfield said. “That is what our offense is designed to do, to (make it) where you get more than one look at a person. ... One week I may block more and the next week I may get the ball more.”

Defensively, White County returned nine starters from last year’s team, and the experience has shown through the first three weeks. The Warriors have allowed just 27 points this season and have a shutout over Lumpkin County.

Ballard knows his defense will be challenged this week and the remainder of the season when it faces the rest of Region 7-AAA, including defending state champion Buford and semifinalist North Hall.

“Blessed Trinity has a very prolific offense and they play a very physical brand of offense,” Ballard said. “They are going to come right at you and then throw the play-action passes. They are going to be a big challenge for us and hopefully we can continue to play well.”

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday night at White County Stadium in Cleveland.


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